Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dzogchen Texts ONE

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Mind Series Tantras

The Supreme Source: Kun byed.
Chos thams cad rdzogs pa chen po byang chub kyi sems kun byed rgyal po: "The Universal Great Perfection of Pure Mind, the Supreme Source".
Translated in Chogyal Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente (1999). "The All-Creating Monarch" (PT).

Mind Series Transmissions Translated by Bairotsana

The Eternal Victory Banner: Mi nub pa’i rgyal mtshan nam mkha’ che / Mi nub rgyal mtshan chen po.
Rdo rje sems dpa’ rang bzhin mi nub pa’i rgyal mtshan: "The Nature of Vajrasattva: The Forever-Unfurled Victory Banner".
"The Total Space of Vajrasattva", Adriano Clemente (1999).
"The Eternal Victory Banner", Keith Dowman, (2006).

The Great Garuda in Flight: Khyung chen lding ba.

Secret Precept Series Tantras

Beyond the Sound: Thal ’gyur.
Rin po che ’byung bar byed pa sgra thal ’gyur chen po’i rgyud: "The Great Tantra Beyond the Sound: A Fountain of Jewels".

Beautiful Luck (The Great Tantra of): Bkra shis mdzes ldan chen po’i rgyud.

The Blazing Lamp: sGron ma ’bar ba.
Gser gyi me tog mdzes pa rin po che sgron ma ’bar ba’i rgyud: "The Beautiful Golden Flower: The Tantra of the Precious Blazing Lamp".

Direct Introduction (Tantra of): Ngo sprod spras pa’i rgyud.
Ngo sprod rin po che spras pa’i zhing khams bstan pa’i rgyud: "The Tantra of the Buddhafields of Precious Direct Introduction".

The Garland of Pearls, Mu tig ’phreng ba.
Mu tig rin po che phreng ba’i rgyud: "The Tantra of the Precious Garland of Pearls".

The Great Array of Gems (Tantra of); Nor bu ’phra bkod chen po’i rgyud.
Nor bu ’phra bkod rang gi don thams cad gsal bar byed pa’i rgyud: "The Tantra of the Great Array of Gems Illuminating the Purpose of Life".

The Heap of Jewels: Rin chen spungs pa.
Rin chen spungs pa’i yon tan chen po ston pa rgyud kyi rgyal po: "The Sovereign Tantra Revealing Great Qualities as a Heap of Jewels".

The Heart-Mirror of Vajrasattva: Rdo rje sems dpa’ snying gi me long.
Rdo rje sems dpa’ snying gi me long gi rgyud: "The Tantra of Vajrasattva's Heart-Mirror".

The Rampant Lion: Seng ge rtsal rdzogs.
Seng ge rtsal rdzogs chen po’i rgyud: "The Great Tantra The Rampant Lion".

Spontaneously Arising Gnosis: Rig pa rang shar.
Rig pa rang shar chen po’i rgyud: "The Great Tantra of Spontaneously Arising Gnosis".

The Natural Freedom of Gnosis: Rig pa rang grol.
Rig pa rang grol chen po thams cad ’grol ba’i rgyud: "The Tantra of Universal Gnostic Liberation".

The Precious Blazing Relics (The Tantra of): Sku gdung ’bar ba rin po che’i rgyud.
Dpal nam mkha’ med pa’i sku gdung ’bar ba chen po’i rgyud: "The Great Tantra of the Glorious Nonspatial Blazing Relics".

Samantabhadra's Mirror of Mind: Kun tu bzang po thugs kyi me long.
Kun tu bzang po thugs kyi me long gi rgyud: "The Tantra of Samantabhadra's Mind Mirror".

The Six Matrixes: Klong drug pa
Kun tu bzang po klong drug pa’i rgyud: "The Tantra of the Six Matrixes of Samantabhadra".

The Unwritten Tantra: Yi ge med pa.
Yi ge med pa rgyud chen po: "The Great Unwritten Tantra".

Unclassified Tantras from the Nyingma Gyubum

The Epitome of the Definitive Meaning (Tantra of), Nges don ’dus pa’i rgyud.
Rdzogs pa chen po nges don ’dus pa’i rgyud lta ba thams cad kyi snying po rin po che rnam par bkod pa: "The Tantra Epitomizing the Definitive Meaning, the Heart-Essence of All Vision: Jewels in Array".

The Sphere of Total Illumination: Thig le kun gsal.
Thig le kun gsal chen po’i rgyud: "The Great Tantra The Sphere of Total Illumination". Attributed to Garab Dorje.

The Stream of Empowering Self-sprung Perfection (Tantra of): Rdzogs pa rang byung dbang gi chu bo’i rgyud.
Sku thams cad kyi snang ba ston pa dbang rdzogs pa rang byung chen po’i rgyud: "The Great Tantra Self-Sprung Perfect Power Revealing the Vision of All Gnostic Dimensions".

The Supreme Secret: The Mind of All the Tathagatas (Tantra of ): De bzhin gshegs pa thams cad kyi thugs gsang ba chen po’i rgyud.
Sang rgyas thams cad kyi thugs gsang ba chen po’i rgyud: "The Great Tantra of the Secret Mind of All Buddha".

Texts of Sri Singha

The Great Garuda: Khyung chen. See The Flight of the Great Garuda
The Flight of the Great Garuda: Khyung chen mkha’ lding in the first instance and thereafter Khyung chen.

Spoken Word: The Secret Oral Tradition: Kha gtam gSang ba’i snyan brgyud.

The Works of Garab Dorje (unlocated)

Free Identity: Mtshan ma rang grol.
"Natural Freedom that Underlies Characteristics" (PT).

The Junction of the Three Dimensions: Sku gsum thug phrad.
"Direct Encounter with the Three Kayas" (PT).

The Sacred Vase of Gnosis: Rig pa spyi blugs.

Synchronicity: Dus gsum chig chod.
"Cutting Through Time", "Cutting Through the Three Times".

The Transfiguration of the Six Sensory Fields: Tshogs drug zil gnon.
"Overwhelming the Six Modes of Consciousness with Splendor" (PT).

The Vajra Fortress: Rdo rje mkhar rdzong.

Mahayoga Tantras

The Magical Web of Manjushri: ’Jam dpal sgyu ’phrul drwa ba.
"The Web of Magical Display of Manjushri" (PT).

The Matrix of Mystery: Gsang snying.
Gsang ba’i snying po’i rgyud: Skt. Guhyagarbha Tantra
"Heart Essence of Secrets" (PT); "Matrix of Mystery" (HG).


Bon Texts ONE


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Bon Studies.... The Vajrayana Research Resource
The life of a Bonpo luminary: Sainthood, Partisanship and Literary Representation in a 20th Century Tibetan Biography William M. Gorvine's doctoral dissertation University of Virginia, 2006. About Shardza Rinpoche.
Magical Movements ('phrul 'khor): Ancient Yogic Practices in the Bon Religion and Contemporary Medical Perspectives Marco Alejandro Chaoul's doctoral dissertation Rice University 2006
The Mirrorwork of Tibetan Religios Histoians: A comparison of Buddhist and Bon Historiography Zeff Bjerken's doctoral dissertation University of Michigan 2001
Transgressive Compassion: The Role of Fear, Horror and the Threat of Death in Ultimate Transformation Lucy Annette Jones' doctoral dissertation Rice University 1998. The gcod of the Bon tradition and Georges Bataille are compared. It contains a translation of _gcod gdams rin chen phreng ba_
An Exploratory Study of the Effects of Practicing Tibetan Dream Yoga Four foundations on Waking Life Awareness and Dreams Barbara S. Stefik’s doctoral dissertation Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 2000
Bonpo Studies: The A Khrid System of Meditation (1) Part 1 of an article by Per Kvearne
Bonpo Studies: The A Khrid System of Meditation (2) Part 2 of an article by Per Kvearne
Prayer to Ta pi hri tsa: A short exposition of the Base, the Path and the Fruit in Bon Dzogchen teachings An article by Ratka Jurkovic
Bon-- the Primitive Religion of Tibet An article by Dr. A.C. Banerjee.
Beyond acceptance and Rejection? The Anti-Bon Polemic Included in the Thirteenth-Century Single Intention (Dgong-gcig Yig-cha) and Its Background in Tibetan Religious History An article by Dan Martin
A Collection of Studies on the Tibetan Bon Tradition By various authors.
Unearthing Bon Treasures: A Study of Tibetan Sources on the Earlier Years in the Life of Gshen-Chen Klu-Dga' An article by Dan Martin
The Tibetan Tradition of the Great Perfection An article by Jean-Luc Achard
The Tantra "A Vessel of Bdud Rtsi," a Bon Text An article by Michael Walter
Dorje Lingpa and His Rediscovery of the “Gold Needle” in Bhutan An article by Samten G. Karmay
Kun grol grags pa and the revelation of the Secret Treasury of the Sky Dancers on Channels and Winds an inquiry into the development of the New Bon tradition in Eighteenth century Tibet An article by by Jean-Luc Achard
Exorcising the Illusion of Bon "Shamans": A Critical Genealogy of Shamanism in Tibetan Religions An article by Zeff Bjerken
Aspects of the Origin of the Buddhist Tradition in Tibet An article by Per Kvaerne
Tibetan g-Yung-Drung Monastery at Dolanji An article by Tedeusz Skorupski

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Dzogchen Path.....Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche


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“The practice of Dzogchen or Atiyoga, is to realise the tathagatagarbha, or buddha nature, which has been present in our nature since the very beginning. Here it is not sufficient to concentrate on contrived practices that involve intellectual efforts and concepts; to recognise this Nature, the practice should be utterly beyond fabrication. The practice is simply to realise the radiance, the natural expression of wisdom, which is beyond all intellectual concepts. It is the true realisation of the Absolute Nature just as it is, the ultimate fruition.

At the present moment our awareness is entangled within our mind, completely enveloped and obscured by mental activity. Through the practice of Trekchö, or ‘cutting through all attachment’, and the ‘direct realization’ of Tögal, one can unmask this awareness and let its radiance arise.

To accomplish this it is necessary to do the practice of ‘the four ways of leaving things in their natural simplicity’ (Tib.chokshyak shyi) and through these, to acquire perfect stability in the Trekchö practice. Then will come the ‘four visions of tögal’ which are the natural arising of visions of discs and rays of light, deities and buddha fields. These visions are naturally ready to arise from within the central channel that joins the heart to the eyes. Such an arising from this channel will appear in a gradual process. In the same way that the waxing moon will increase from the first to the fifteenth of the month, these visions will gradually increase—from the simple perception of dots of light to the full array of the vast expanse of thesambhogakaya buddha fields. The manifestation of space and awareness will thus reach its culminating point.

These experiences are not linked with consciousness or intellect as the former experiences were; they are a true manifestation or radiance of awareness. After this, in the same way that the moon decreases and disappears from the fifteenth to the thirtieth of the month, all of these experiences and visions, all phenomena, will gradually come to exhaustion and reabsorb themselves in the Absolute. At this time the deluded mind which conceives subject and object will disappear, and the primal wisdom, which is beyond intellect, will gradually expand. Eventually one will attain the perfect enlightenment of the Primordial Buddha, Samantabhadra, endowed with the six extraordinary features.

This is the path intended for people of superior faculties who can achieve enlightenment in this very lifetime. For those of medium faculties, there is instruction on how to achieve liberation within the 'Bardo' or ‘intermediate state’. When we say ‘Bardo’, in fact we recognise four bardos: the Bardo from conception to death; the Bardo of the moment of death; the Bardo of the Absolute Nature; and the Bardo of coming into the next existence.

The Bardo between conception and death is our present state. In order to destroy all deluded perceptions or deluded thoughts in this Bardo, the ultimate practice is Dzogchen Atiyoga. In this there are the two main paths of Trekchö and Tögal, as described above. As the ultimate fruition of this practice, the ordinary body made of gross aggregates will dissolve into the ‘Rainbow Body of Great Transference’ or ‘Vajra-body’, or dissolve without leaving any remnants.

But if one cannot achieve such ultimate attainment within a lifetime, then there is still the possibility of achieving enlightenment at the time of death. If our teacher or a close Dharma brother is near to us at the very moment of our death, he will remind us of the instructions—the introduction to the nature of mind. If we can recall our experience of practice and remain in this nature, then we achieve realization. It is then possible to depart to a buddha field straightaway with no intermediate state. If this is not accomplished, then the Bardo of the Absolute Nature, or Dharmata, will arise. At this time the Ground Luminosity of the Dharmakaya will appear. If one can unite the Ground Luminosity (Mother Luminosity) with the Luminosity which one has recognized whilst practising during one’s lifetime (Child Luminosity), then one will be liberated into the Dharmakaya.

If one is not liberated at this time, then countless manifestations will appear: sounds, lights and rays. Great fear will arise because of these emanations and visions, but if one is a good practitioner one will realize that there is no point in being afraid. One will know that whatever deities appear, wrathful or peaceful, they are one’s own projections. The recognition of this assures liberation in a sambhogakaya buddha field. But if this is not accomplished, then the Bardo of coming into a new existence will occur. If one practises in the right way at this time one can be liberated into a nirmanakaya buddha field.

In essence, the primordial nature of the Buddha Samantabhadra is like the ground or mother-nature of realization. The nature which has been introduced to us by the teacher is like the child-nature. When these two meet, one will attain full realization and seize the fortress of Enlightenment.

For ordinary beings unable to achieve liberation either in this life or in the intermediate state, liberation can be attained in the nirmanakaya buddha fields.

In brief, through the practice of the path of Trekchö and Tögal, one will reach the ultimate realization of the Dharmakaya, the enlightened state of the Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra, within this very lifetime. This is the best case. If not, then one can be freed in the other three Bardos: the Bardos of the moment of death, Dharmata and Becoming. Even if this does not happen, one can still be relieved of suffering and be liberated by the virtues or blessings of the Dzogchen teachings. Whoever has a connection with these teachings is: liberated by sight, on seeing the teaching or the teacher; liberated through hearing, on hearing the teacher or teaching; liberated through contact, on wearing the precious mantras and scriptures of Dzogchen; or liberated through taste, and so forth. As a result, one will be liberated into one of the five nirmanakaya buddha fields.”

......From a teaching on the Longchen Nyingtik Guru Yoga, given by Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Dordogne, France in August 1984, at the request of Sogyal Rinpoche and the Rigpa Sangha

September 2012
John Hopkins....Northern New Mexico


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dzogs Chen: the importance of Sem-dé


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The methods of men-ngag-dé are extremely simple and direct. They could easily be misunderstood. The four chög-zhag are a skeletal frame clothed by many sem’dzin – the methods of men-ngag-dé. These methods are secret, not because they are dangerous – but because the power of transmission would be jeopardised if they were given to people who could not comprehend them.

Of the nine vehicles of the Nyingma tradition, the most important is Dzogchen – ati-yoga yana or shintu-naljor thegpa. This vehicle has three series of teachings, Dzogchen sem-dé, Dzogchen long-dé and Dzogchen men-ngag-dé. The sem-dé and long-dé series came into Tibet from India in the 10th century, but have neither been taught widely nor survived as living traditions in the major Nyingma lineages. Both the lineal streams of sem-dé and long-dé declined as religious traditions after the 11th century, and only seem to have survived in small family lineages, if at all. Men-ngag-dé developed later, from the 12th century, and has continued to grow and flourish up to the present day. Men-ngag-dé is now the pervasive extant teaching and practice of Dzogchen taught in the major Nyingma lineages.

The sem-dé series is of great interest because of its rarity, and because it contains a ngöndro – a way of approaching the Dzogchen teachings through the gradual development of meditative experience. Long-dé and men-ngag-dé do not contain ngöndro, and thus have to be approached via the Tantric ngöndro, kyé-rim, and dzog-rim. Sem-dé should be of interest to Western practitioners of Vajrayana in particular, not only because of its rarity, but because it provides a means of access to Dzogchen practice which bypasses or skips the stages of Tantric ngöndro, kyé-rim and dzog-rim. The sem-dé teachings from the pure vision gTérma cycles contain the ngöndro practice of ‘the four naljors’ – the four foundation practices of Dzogchen. This article concentrates on sem-dé, the series of the nature of Mind.

First we will describe the major historical practitioners of Dzogchen sem-dé.

Vairochana was one of the twenty-five disciples of Padmasambhava, and is considered to have brought the sem-dé and long-dé teachings to Tibet. During the reign of King Trisong Détsen in the 8th century he was ordained by Shantarakshita as one of the first seven monks in Tibet at the newly-founded Sam-ye monastery. He was a prolific translator and siddha. Trisong Détsen sent him to India, accompanied by another monk, to receive teachings from Sri Simha on sem-dé and long-dé, but it is not clear whether he was still a monk when he returned to Tibet. These teachings were given to them at night with the utmost secrecy. This is said to have happened in the following way: Sri Simha wrote down the ‘eighteen esoteric instructions’ of the series of the nature of Mind on white silk using milk from a white goat. The words became clear when held over smoke. This teaching is comprised of the eighteen texts known as Sems sDe bCo brGyad.

There were many critics of Dzogchen at this time because these teachings went beyond conventional moral codes – including the principle of karma. The idea that karma was not a mechanistic system of cause and effect but in reality an illusory manifestation of perception and response was very threatening to the religious hierarchy – and still is. The sense in which karma was the ‘form aspect’ of pattern that played in relation to the ‘emptiness aspect’ of chaos was not judged to be conducive to maintaining social order. These teachings were therefore given in secret, as they were seen to be too dangerous for the general population. Ngak’chang Rinpoche says of this issue that … it would seem to be a perennial policy amongst all socially repressive cultures to keep people ignorant and bound in materialistic superstitions of punishment and retribution.

Sri Simha gave Vairochana all the empowerments and instructions of the sixty-Tantra pitaka along with that of long-dé (the series of space). Before returning to Tibet Vairochana also met Garab Dorje, the first human teacher of Dzogchen, from whom he received further teachings. On his return, he taught everything that he had received, also in secrecy, and translated the first sem-dé texts into Tibetan. After this time he was forced into exile because of malicious rumours spread by the Indian factions who wanted to prevent access to the Dzogchen teachings. Having discovered that Vairochana had received these teachings against their wishes, they spared no effort in their attempts to have him discredited in his own country. The Indian factions feared that Dzogchen could be ‘lost to Tibet’ and, to prevent this, they spread the rumour that Vairochana had only brought back to Tibet a series of magic spells which had nothing to do with Dzogchen. The King’s ministers felt that Vairochana should be executed but the King disagreed and contrived to have a beggar who physically resembled Vairochana thrown into the river while Vairochana himself hid in a hollow pillar in the palace. One night the Queen discovered him there, whereupon she informed the King’s ministers and the King found himself forced to agree to Vairochana’s expulsion.

In exile in Tshawarong, Vairochana accepted Yudra Nyingpo as a disciple. Yudra Nyingpo was eventually responsible for helping Vimalamitra to translate the later texts of sem-dé into Tibetan, whilst also working towards helping his teacher return to Tibet from exile. At this time Vairochana gave Pag Mipham Gönpo oral instruction on the Dzogchen long-dé series. Pag Mipham Gönpo (the Invincible Geriatric) was a physically frail man of eighty-five when he started to practise, so the meditation belt and a stick which were part of the transmission proved very useful. A lot of people imagine that Vairochana gave him the meditation belt and a stick to prop up his chin and hold him in position because of his age, but this is not accurate. The belt and stick are an essential aspect of long-dé practice, and are used by practitioners of all ages. According to Düd’jom Rinpoche’s text, The History and Fundamentals of the Nyingma School, it is said that his family laughed at the idea of him starting to practise at such a late stage of life, but he achieved liberation. It is also said that at this time he became immensely joyful, and embraced Vairochana around the neck not letting go for a whole day.

He lived for a further hundred years, transmitting the teachings to his own disciples, and each one of them achieved rainbow body. Vairochana also transmitted the sem-dé teachings to Nyak Jnana Kumara, who was born in Yarlung in the late 8th century. He was ordained as a monk, and became a brilliant translator. In his late twenties he, like Vairochana, had to spend time in exile after King Trisong Détsen died. His life was not easy. His brother took a violent dislike to him and declared that he was ‘an adept of extremist mantras’. He regained the confidence of the people by manifesting precious gems where he lived, but his bad luck persisted and he was pursued by antagonists. Fortunately he met Vimalamitra in the course of his travels, and received teachings from him.

Nubchen Sang-gyé Yeshé became a student of one of Nyak Jnana Kumara’s disciples, and he also had teachings from Padmasambhava, Yeshé Tsogyel and many other masters. Later, when Langdarma, the King of that time, persecuted the monastic institutions, it was by Nubchen Sang-gyé Yeshé’s kindness that the mantra adepts who wore the white skirt and long braided hair were unharmed by Langdarma’s persecution[11] though his own two sons were killed during the King’s reign. Nubchen Sang-gyé Yeshé terrified the King by pointing a finger at the sky and bringing forth a black iron scorpion the size of a yak. He also demonstrated how he could manifest a thunderbolt and use it to smash rocks to pieces. He was also a great writer on sem-dé.

Aro Yeshé Jungné was a teacher and writer on sem-dé of the 10th century. His system of teaching was known as Kham-lug as he hailed from the Kham region of Tibet. He formulated a system of sem-dé known as the Seven Sessions of Aro. His teachings and writings had a profound influence on Dzogchen sem-dé but his life remains obscure.

Rongdzom Chökyi Zangpo was a great master of Dzogchen in the 11th century. At the age of eleven he was able to remember teachings after hearing them only once. For this reason he was known as an emanation of Manjushri. He also possessed great siddhis and during the one hundred nineteen years that he lived he had many students, wrote prolifically and developed the system of teaching known as Rong-lug. Many more lines branched out after this but after the 11th century it declined. By the 17th century sem-dé had become extinct as a separate living tradition. Rig’dzin gTér-dag Lingpa, one of the great Nyingma gTértöns, stated that practically nothing survived of sem-dé in his day (17th century) apart from the transmission of the rLung (permission to practise).

When sem-dé was brought to Tibet it was a time of proliferation of Buddhist teachings. Ordained practitioners were comprised of monks / nuns (ordination based within the Sutric vehicle) and ngakpas / ngakmas (ordination based within the Tantric vehicle). In addition, of course, there were the lay yogis and yoginis, a group of non-ordained practitioners. From the point of view of Dzogchen, ordination was not a consideration, as it is not a vehicle of ritual practice. The historical records of this time are not explicit in their descriptions of which type of practitioner the great lineage holders were.

Both Vairochana and Nyak Jnana Kumara are said to have been ordained as monks; however, line drawings in The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism by Düd’jom Rinpoche depict all but Vairochana with long hair and yogic dress. It would seem to be the case that most of these practitioners belonged either to the ngak’phang sangha or to the lay yogic Dzogchen style of practice.

Sem-dé is the series of the nature of Mind. As one might expect from its title, it is comprised of detailed teachings on the nature of Mind and how that is differentiated from dualistic mind. It describes in detail how dualistic mind is affected by practice, with regard to the sem-nyams – the experiences of emptiness and form through which one discovers the instant-presence of rigpa.

The teachings on sem-dé are divided into two parts. The first of these is an actual practice of ngöndro or preliminary practices which are the four naljors. The second part is the definitive practice of sem-dé – the four ting-ngé-dzin (absorptions or samadhis). The purpose of any ngöndro practice in any vehicle is to bring the condition of the practitioner to the base of that vehicle. The Tantric ngöndro, which is the one most widely known in the West, brings its practitioners to the base of Tantra, which is the experience of emptiness. It bridges the experiences of the previous vehicle; and, because it is the Tantric ngöndro, it is Tantric in its nature. For example, the practice of Lama’i naljor is pure Tantra. Likewise the four naljors contain detailed teachings on the nature of Mind, which bridge the experiences gained in both Sutra and Tantra. This allows the practitioner to arrive at the base of Dzogchen, which is the non-dual experience, and then to begin the actual sem-dé practice of the four ting-ngé-dzin (népa, gYo-wa, nyam-nyid and lhundrüp). In the same way as the Tantric ngöndro resembles the practice of Tantra, the Dzogchen ngöndro resembles the practice of Dzogchen. The fourth naljor is lhundrüp, which is the integration of the non-dual experience into everyday life. This of course is none other than the practice of Dzogchen itself.

Dzogchen teachings available today are mostly those of men-ngag-dé, because this was the tradition which survived and flourished. There are very few teachings from sem-dé ngöndro and the ting-ngé-dzin available, and also few from long-dé. Men-ngag-dé is the series of implicit instruction. The word ‘implicit’ is used because the meaning of the instruction is only accessible to the practitioner who is in a condition to be able to perceive it. In other words, it is not hidden but neither is it explicit – it is implicit. The transmission of understanding the practice is contained in the instruction of the practice itself. This is given to the disciple by the teacher in a very cryptic manner according to the four chog-zhag.

The chog-zhag of the body is: whatever the position of the body is the correct one for integration with rigpa. The chog-zhag of the eyes is: wherever the eyes are looking is where they are looking. The chog-zhag of the focus of the eyes is: wherever the eyes focus is where their focus is found. The chog-zhag of the Mind is: whatever arises in the Mind is already integrated with rigpa.

This is an example of the teaching of the four chög-zhag. The implicit instruction is that there is nothing either to change or to alter. There is nothing to do, nowhere to go, no practice to follow. If this is not immediately understood, questions are useless – there are no answers beyond direct communication of the four chög-zhag. There is nothing to ask because there is nothing to do beyond recognising that you have never been anywhere other than the state of rigpa. If the practitioner is in the non-dual state, then of course there is nothing to do, and nowhere else to go.

Men-ngag-dé contains no detailed teachings on mind and the nature of Mind; thus it is much harder to access the meaning of the teaching, or to explore and practise in relation to an evolving understanding. In fact, it is impossible to practise men-ngag-dé if one has no experience of the non-dual state. Unless one first practises either the sem-dé ngöndro or the vehicles of Sutra and Tantra one is unlikely to find the non-dual state; and the non-dual state is the spring-board necessary to understand and practise the men-ngag-dé teachings. This goes some way towards explaining why most of the teaching available on Dzogchen at this time is cryptic and introduced within the context of Tantric training. It also explains why many Nyingma Lamas are so reluctant to teach Dzogchen. The methods of men-ngag-dé are very, very simple and direct, and could easily be misunderstood. The four chög-zhag are a skeletal frame clothed by many sem’dzin – methods of men-ngag-dé. These methods are secret – not because they are dangerous, but because the power of transmission would be jeopardised if they were given to people who could not comprehend them.

The Aro gTér lineage has teachings from each of the three series in fairly equal quantities. This is unusual, as sem-dé has all but died out in most of the other lineages of the Nyingma tradition. This explains why in the Aro gTér lineage practitioners are not required to complete Tantric ngöndro. They gather the required experiences by practising the sem-dé ngöndro, i.e. the four naljors. In the Aro gTér lineage, the Dzogchen sem-dé teachings are comprised of the four naljors, the four ting-ngé-dzin, and trül-khor naljor (yantra yoga). The Dzogchen long-dé teachings are comprised of the four da (instructions relating to sensation through physical posture and pressure points), and sKu-mNyé. The Dzogchen men-ngag-dé teachings are comprised of the four chög-zhag, and the a-tri exercises. 1. Ngöndro means preparation or foundation practice. Literally, ngöndro means ‘before going’ and is usually understood to apply to the precursor of Tantric practice, i.e. 100,000 prostrations, 100,000 mandala offerings, 100,000 Dor-sem recitations, and 100,000 repetitions of Lama’i naljor.

2. Kyé-rim is the development stage of Tantra, and dzog-rim is the completion stage. Both phases are usually necessary before the practitioner can approach the Dzogchen teachings. Kyé-rim is mainly the practice of the awareness-beings, and dzog-rim is mainly the practice of the spatial nerves, winds, and elemental essences.

3. According to Ngak’chang Rinpoche, this does not imply that Vairochana remained a monk for the rest of his life. Ngak’chang Rinpoche states quite definitely that it was a customary option for practitioners at that time to take on monasticism for a limited period, before moving into their Tantric phase. Becoming a monk, or a nun in the case of Yeshé Tsogyel, represented the Sutric phase of their training (see Sky Dancer by Keith Dowman).

4. It is also said that these texts were written down on goat skin.

5. There have been many critics of Dzogchen in Tibet throughout its Buddhist history, and this pattern continues to the present day. The criticisms are often based either on its supposed similarity to Ch’an, or the idea that it is a Shaivite heresy. Due to the fervour of critics over a millennium, Nyingma scholars have argued the position of Dzogchen as an authentic Buddhist vehicle using the language and constructs of both Sutra and Tantra. As a result, Dzogchen became gradually more ritualised from the time of Jig’mèd Lingpa onwards. This is another reason for the emphasis placed on the Tantric ngöndro as a precursor before receiving Dzogchen teaching or engaging in Dzogchen practice.

6. The highly questionable nature of this behaviour does not seem to be addressed in the texts.

7. The meditation belt is called a gom-tag, and the stick is called a gom-ten (support) or gom-shing (stick). There are gom-tags of at least four different lengths and also different kinds of gom-ten. These are used in various combinations to facilitate a series of highly specific meditation postures which co-ordinate body posture with the functioning of the rTsa-rLung system (spatial nerves and spatial winds).

8. According to other oral sources, he was supposed to have been a monk, but this is doubtful. This is probably another of the many cases in which yogis and yoginis are portrayed as having been monks and nuns in order to ‘monasticise’ the history of the various traditions.

9. H. H. Düd’jom Rinpoche, Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism; Volume one. Wisdom Publications (1991), page 601.

10. Things do not seem to change very much with the passing of history. We do not have to look very far to see the same thing playing itself out today.

11. H. H. Düd’jom Rinpoche, op. cit., page 612.

12. From what we know of the Aro gTér tradition so far, there is no obvious link between either Aro Lingma or Aro Yeshé and Aro Yeshé Jung-né. At this point the names would appear to be coincidental.

13. Naljor is the Tibetan equivalent to the Sanskrit word yoga, but in the Dzogchen tradition it does not have the meaning of union or unification. In Dzogchen the word has a meaning closer to its Tibetan etymology: ‘nal’ derives from ‘nalwa’ which means ‘the natural state’, and ‘jor’ derives from ‘jorpa’ which means ‘to remain’ or ‘remaining’. Hence naljor means ‘remaining in the natural state’.

14. mDo – Sutra.

15. Chög-zhag means ‘leaving it as it is’.

16. Namkha’i Norbu Rinpoche teaches from sem-dé and is intimately familiar with both the four naljors and the four ting-ngé-dzin, but at the point of publication we cannot give a reference as to the origin of these teachings in terms of his lineage. We know that these teachings are also given in the Bön tradition, from what we have heard of Bön teachings given in the USA. There may well be extant lineages of sem-dé within the lesser-known Nyingma family lineages. Historical research into the Tibetan traditions is in its infancy and new information comes to light all the time in research papers and books. If further information is forthcoming it will be included in a revised version of this article.

© 2012


September 2012


The Practice of Trekcho....Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859 - 1933)


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....Preliminary For The Practice of Trekcho....Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859 - 1933)....An important Bonpo teacher in the Rime Tradition...realized the rainbow body when he died in 1933.....
External Practice
Go to a quiet place without any people and stay there.First make offerings to the mountain gods or whoever is powerful and spiritual in the area so that they are not disturbed. Tell them where you are practicing so that you do not disturb them.Then, thinking that you must stop desire for samsara, ask what is the purpose of so much attachment? You need to ask why you have this desire.
Imagine that you are naked and born in hell, screaming and suffering as if you are actually there. Then imagine that you are born in the realm of the hungry ghosts (pretas) with endless hunger and want. Imagine you are born in the animal realm, doing as animals do. Then think that you are born as a human with servants—imagine that life; then as a titan (asura) fighting with another—what is the purpose of that? Finally imagine that you are born as a god (deva) and spending life in leisure without thinking of the next life—what is the purpose of this?Imagine that you are circulating from one realm to the next.
Do whatever comes to your mind—in vision or imagination.
Then imagine what it is like to be a yidam (tutelary deity); or that you are in Shambhala and are teaching the bodhisattvas; or in the tantric realms with the siddhas as disciples; or in Sukhavati or Olmo Lungring teaching Dzogpachenpo.Pretend that you are actually doing this.
Finally dissolve all visions into the natural state. What is left? Then dissolve even your thought itself into the natural state so there is nothing left. Then you will realise that everything is made by your thought—everything comes from there. You have to realise how things are created.
You must practice this seriously for at best three months, or at least one month."


September 2012


Final Verse. From "Natural Perfection, Longchenpa's Radical Dzogchen"


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"So stay right there you lucky people, let go and be happy in the natural state. Leave your complicated life and everyday confusion alone and out of quietude, doing nothing, watch the nature of mind. This piece of advice is from the bottom of my heart; fully engage in contemplation and understanding is born. Cherish nonattachment and delusion dissolves. Forming no agenda at all, reality dawns. Whatever occurs, whatever it may be, that itself is the key, and without stopping it or nourishing it, in an even flow, freely resting, surrendering to ultimate contemplation in naked pristine purity, we reach consummation."

Final Verse. From "Natural Perfection, Longchenpa's Radical Dzogchen" ...Translation and Commentary by Keith Dowman...Published in 2010 (Wisdom Publications Boston)


September 2012


Maha Ati.....Jigme Lingpa.... (1730-1798)


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A teaching on the awakened state, by the great Dzogchen teacher Jigme Lingpa (1730-1798)

Translated by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

From Mudra, by Chogyam Trungpa

THIS IS THE LION'S ROAR which subdues the rampant confusions and misunderstandings of those meditators who have abandoned materialistic attachments to meditate on the Innermost Essence.

The maha ati [Tib.: dzogchen], which is beyond conceptions and transcends both grasping and letting go, is the essence of transcendental insight. This is the unchanging state of non meditation in which there is awareness but no clinging. Understanding this, I pay ceaseless homage to the maha ati with great simplicity.

Here is the essence of the maha ati tantra,
The innermost heart of Padmakara's teachings,
The life-force of the dakinis.
This is the ultimate teaching of all the nine vehicles.
It can be transmitted only by a guru of the thought lineage
And not by words alone.
Nevertheless I have written this
For the benefit of great meditators
Who are dedicated to the highest teaching.
This teaching was taken from the treasury of dharmadhatu
And is not created out of attachment
To theories and philosophical abstractions.

First the pupil must find an accomplished guru with whom he has a good karmic link. The teacher must be a holder of the thought lineage transmission. The pupil must have single minded devotion and faith, which makes possible the transmission of the teacher's understanding.

The maha ati is of the greatest simplicity. It is what is. It cannot be shown by analogy; nothing can obstruct it. It is without limitation and transcends all extremes. It is clear-cut nowness, which can never change its shape or colour. When you become one with this state, the desire to meditate itself dissolves; you are freed from the chain of meditation and philosophy, and conviction is born within you. The thinker has deserted. There is no longer any benefit to be gained from "good" thoughts and no harm is to be suffered from "bad" thoughts. Neutral thoughts can no longer deceive. You become one with transcendental insight and boundless space. Then you will find signs of progress on the path. There is no longer any question of rampant confusions and misunderstandings.

Although this teaching is the king of the yanas [vehicles], meditators are divided into those who are highly receptive to it, those who are less receptive and those who are quite unreceptive. The most highly receptive pupils are hard to find, and it sometimes happens that teacher and pupil are unable to find a true meeting point. In such a case nothing is gained and misconceptions may arise concerning the nature of maha ati.

Those who are less receptive begin by studying the theory and gradually develop the feeling and true understanding. Nowadays many people regard the theory as being the meditation. Their meditation may be clear and devoid of thoughts and it may be relaxing and enjoyable, but this is merely the temporary experiencing of bliss. They think this is meditation and that no one knows any better than them. They think, "I have attained this understanding:' and they are proud of themselves. Then, if there is no competent teacher, their experience is only theoretical. As it is said in the scriptures of maha ati: "Theory is like a patch on a coat day it will come apart."

People often try to discriminate between "good" thoughts and "bad" thoughts, like trying to separate milk from water. It is easy enough to accept the negative experiences in life but much harder to see the positive experiences as part of the path. Even those who claim to have reached the highest stage of realization are completely involved with worldly concerns and fame. They are attracted by Devaputra [personification of the force which causes attraction to sense objects]. This means they have not realized the self-liberation of the six senses. Such people regard fame as extraordinary and miraculous. This is like claiming that a raven is white. But those who are completely dedicated to the practice of dharma without being concerned about worldly fame and glory should not become too self-satisfied on account of their higher developments of meditation. They must practice the Guru Yoga throughout the four periods of the day in order to receive the blessings of the guru and to merge their minds with his and open the eye of insight.

Once this experience is attained it should not be disregarded. The yogi should thenceforth dedicate himself to this practice with unremitting perseverance. Subsequently his experience of the void will become more peaceful, or he will experience greater clarity and insight. Or again, he may begin to realize the shortcomings of discursive thoughts and thereby develop discriminating wisdom. Some individuals will be able to use both thoughts and the absence of thoughts as meditation, but it should be borne in mind that that which notes what is happening is the tight grip of ego.

Look out for the subtle hindrance of trying to analyze experiences. This is a great danger. It is too early to label all thoughts as dharmakaya [the body of ultimate truth]. The remedy is the wisdom of nowness, changeless and unfailing. Once freed from the bondage of philosophical speculation, the meditator develops penetrating awareness in his practice. If he analyzes his meditation and post-meditation experiences, he will be led astray and make many mistakes. If he fails to understand his shortcomings, he will never gain the free-flowing insight of nowness, beyond all concepts. He will have only a conceptual and nihilistic view of the void, which is characteristic of the lesser yanas.

It is also a mistake to regard the void as a mirage, as though it was merely a combination of vivid perceptions and nothingness. This is the experience of the lower mantras, which might be induced by practice of the Svabhava mantra. It is likewise a mistake, when discursive thoughts are pacified, to overlook the clarity and regard the mind as merely blank. The experience of true insight is the simultaneous awareness of both stillness and active thoughts. According to the maha ati teaching, meditation consists of seeing whatever arises in the mind and simply remaining in the state of nowness. Continuing in this state after meditation is known as "the post-meditation experience."

It is a mistake to try to concentrate on emptiness and, after meditation, intellectually to regard everything as a mirage. Primordial insight is the state which is not influenced by the undergrowth of thoughts. It is a mistake to be on guard against the wandering mind or to try and imprison the mind in the ascetic practice of suppressing thoughts.

Some people may misunderstand the term "nowness" and take it to refer to whatever thoughts happen to be in their mind at the moment. Nowness should be understood as being the primeval insight already described.

The state of non meditation is born in the heart when one no longer discriminates between meditation and non-meditation and one is no longer tempted to change or prolong the state of meditation. There is all-pervading joy, free from all doubts. This is different from the enjoyment of sensual pleasures or from mere happiness.

When we speak of "clarity" we are referring to that state which is free from sloth and dullness. This clarity, inseparable from pure energy, shines forth unobstructed. It is a mistake to equate clarity with awareness of thoughts and the colors and shapes of external phenomena.

When thoughts are absent the meditator is completely immersed in the space of non-thought. The "absence of thoughts" does not mean unconsciousness or sleep or withdrawal from the senses, but simply being unmoved by conflict. The three signs of meditation clarity, joy and absence of thoughts may occur naturally when a person meditates, but if an effort is made to create them the meditator still remains in the circle of samsara.

There are four mistaken views of the void. It is a mistake to imagine that the void is merely empty without seeing the wild space of nowness. It is a mistake to seek the buddha nature in external sources, without realizing that nowness knows no path or goal. It is a mistake to try to introduce some remedy for thoughts without realizing that thoughts are by nature void and that one can free oneself like a snake unwinding. It is also a mistake to hold a nihilistic view that there is nothing but the void, no cause and effect of karma and no meditator nor meditation, failing to experience the void which is beyond conceptions.

Those who have had glimpses of realization must know these dangers and study them thoroughly. It is easy to theorize and talk eloquently about the void, but the meditator may still be unable to deal with certain situations. In a maha ati text it is said:

"Temporary realization is like a mist which will surely disappear' Meditators who have not studied these dangers will never derive any benefit from being in strict retreat or forcibly restraining the mind, nor from visualizing, reciting mantras or practicing Hathayoga. As is said in the Phagpa Dudpa Sutra,

"A Bodhisattva who does not know the real meaning of solitude,
Even if he meditates for many years in a remote valley full of
poisonous snakes
Five hundred miles from the nearest habitation,
Would develop overwhelming pride."

If the meditator is able to use whatever occurs in his life as the path, his body becomes a retreat hut. He does not need to add up the number of years he has been meditating and does not panic when "shocking" thoughts arise. His awareness remains unbroken like that of an old man watching a child at play. As is said in a maha ati text: "Complete realization is like unchanging space."

The yogi of maha ati may look like an ordinary person but his awareness is completely absorbed in nowness. He has no need of books because he sees apparent phenomena and the whole of existence as the mandala of the guru. For him there is no speculation about the stages on the path. His actions are spontaneous and therefore benefit all sentient beings. When he leaves the physical body his consciousness becomes one with the dharmakaya, just as the air in a vase merges with the surrounding space when the vase is broken.


September 2012